Labour Day! Yes, it’s taken a public holiday for me to be able to “find the time” to sit down and tap away, but thus far, it’s been quite an eventful year, to say the least. On the 4th of January my mum’s first cousin Giovanni, affectionately known as “Giovannino”, flew here from Las Vegas (where he lives) to spend three weeks with the family, staying with my mum’s oldest sister, Rina, with whom he grew up with in Italy. My auntie is 87, and whilst in very good form, I am sure the visit shaved another 10 years off her life. As anyone that knows us would know, my auntie’s house was a hub of activity for the entire three weeks that Giovannino was here, with family around and visiting and family dinners happening virtually around the clock. The “activities”, however, did not stop there, and so there were lots of outings, day trips, invitations to visit other friends and the like. As my auntie Rina only lives literally minutes from where I work, I popped in as often as I could. I first met Giovannino as an early 2o- something on my first overseas trip to the USA in Las Vegas. We forged a very strong bond and have remained close ever since.
Only days after Giovannino arrived, we had Moz and Marie’s wedding. Moz is Auntie Rina’s son (and my cousin). They have lived in Mildura for years. It was a beautiful day and perfect weather for the outdoors ceremony which was held at the Darebin Parklands in Fairfield, followed by select close family and friends back at my auntie’s house. It was a small and intimate affair, with lots of love and laughter; a day enjoyed by all! Marie and Moz’s honeymoon was a one-nighter in a hotel close by, followed by the next three weeks at my auntie’s with Giovannino.
I had actually just had almost two weeks off from work, and Giovannino arrived on the day that I went back to work, so I was not able to take much time off. Having said that, between all of the relatives, we did lots of different things with him ,and he was able to visit or revisit several places, as he has been here several times before. One day, along with my Dad and Alex, we went to Phillip Island…to be honest, it had been a while since I had been there too. It was a fun and relaxing day, and we revisited all the must-see sights and things to do. I packed a picnic lunch, which we had in San Remo, before going across to the island. On another occasion, Giovannino took a big group of us to Brunetti’s for coffee, and sfogliatelle. You don’t know what sfogliatelle are? You have got to try them, an amazing sweet from Naples. I must confess that I virtually “od’d” on them when I was there a couple of years back…and probably the time before that as well! Giovannino owns a company in Las Vegas called Italcream, which produces and wholesales “made from scratch” Italian ice-cream; it’s certainly some of the best that I have tasted.
The three weeks went by all too quickly, with me taking a day off just before Giovannino went back to the USA, just hanging out with him and helping him to do some souvenir shopping. It was really nice to just chill out and shoot the breeze. And really, just as soon as he had appeared, he disappeared! This is the way of the world, people come into it, and then go out of it, like water ebbing in and out, and then there are only the memories…until the next time!
Early February it was Miss Linda’s birthday (one of my “partners in crime”…more later), which she had at hers (and my) favorite Thai restaurant, Thaila Thai. There’s only one thing better than great food…food that’s great… and cheap! How can you go wrong with an $18.00 banquet, whereby you can order more food until you have had enough? Couple this with good company and it’s a recipe for success. After our meal, a few of us went to a bar across the road, where we spent a few more hours. It was a terrific night, as any night with Linda always is!
Giovannino left the day after Australia Day. I must say, we are pretty lucky here…we do get lots of public holidays! Alex was suitably impressed when he first came here (which by the way will be 10 years this year!) It was almost February, and I had something else to look forward to…Karen and Jesus were coming back from Ecuador, after a year of travelling Ecuador and South America. Was I jealous! OF COURSE! Despite my incessant travelling, I am always jealous of others travelling…in a nice way, of course! A little bit of background info: I had only known Karen and Jesus for six months before they left, and I met them through my “novia” Linda who manages Inka Marka (whom I had actually only known for a few weeks before I met Karen and Jesus!) Karen is Australian and her husband Ecuadorian. Basically, Linda, Karen and I became inseparable, and even whilst travelling the three of us were in constant contact. We all became so close that Alex nicknamed Linda my “novia” or fiancee…and when Karen came back, he dubbed her my “other novia”. It’s true, we are as thick as thieves!
Linda and I were soooooo excited, I don’t think we even gave them a chance to breathe, and we were on their doorstep! Well, Karen’s brother’s family’s doorstep! They arrived on a Sunday and were picked up by Karen’s brother Michael…back at the family home, we got a call from Karen…OF COURSE we could make it over for a BBQ!!! Alex, Linda and I went together, and our excitement was uncontainable! When Linda and I saw Karen, we started screaming and doing the group hug thing…it was such a marvellous reunion! For me Linda and Karen represent two soul mates, and I know that our friendship will be forever. It took merely minutes, and it felt like they’d never left. What’s worse than an Ombi who doesn’t shut up? An Ombi/ Linda? Karen group who doesn’t shut up! Boy can we talk, I think we surprised even ourselves! Oh yes, we managed to shove in some food between the infrequent gulps of air that we were forced to take whilst speaking non-stop! The boys didn’t get a word in edge-ways…or any ways for that matter! Needless to say, the weeks since Karen and Jesus have come back, have been filled with frequent catch ups and dinners…there’s a lot to catch up on. Some of these catch ups have included a welcome back BBQ in a park in Richmond, and a wonderful dinner at our friends Richard and Jo’s house…fun, friendship, and food! Does it get any better than this?
It suddenly dawned on me sometime that Malaysia, Sarawak and the Rainforest Festival really weren’t all that far away. We are going for two weeks in July and will also visit Brunei (the country), and Penang. How much can you pack into two weeks? Just watch us!
I have now been working at Inclusive Leisure Victoria (ILV) for four and a half months, and am really getting into the groove. As the manager, my role is around policy and advocacy for the inclusion of people with a disability in the sport and recreation sector. It’s funny how I have gone full circle, and am back working in the disability field. I must admit that making a difference in the lives of others gives me a huge sense of achievement and satisfaction. My indicator of success is seeing others successful! Alex continues to work at Melbourne University, in the Law School. His “computer boffinry” never ceases to amaze me, but being a “techno-slexic” that isn’t too hard to do! We are also back on the “hunt for a home” to buy, but that whole saga is rather depressing, as prices seem to increase by the week. When I find myself asking where time goes, I also need to consider that I spend my weeks looking for houses, and my Saturdays going from one inspection to the next, as well as auctions. I have been left mortified on a number of occasions, as I have watched the bidding go above and beyond the reserve. Just to give you an idea, last Saturday we went to the auction of an apartment in Coburg whose reserve was 450 thousand, but which sold for 551! How depressing! For those of you who have done it, I am sure that you would understand both how time and emotionally consuming this process is! OK, off the whinge bandwagon.
Whilst writing this blog, I quickly checked my email account, and watched a short film (not quite six minutes) that Linda sent me. It made me cry! It very much ties into compassion and humility, and made me think how very lucky I am to be healthy, alive and well, and that indeed I have nothing to whinge about. I am so thankful that Alex and I have compassion and that we genuinely believe that the little things we do, both personally and metaphorically, can make a difference to the people around us. A “small” act can have such a “profound” effect. Please make the time to watch this short film, called “The Story of a Sign”.
So, there are some highlights from the last week, or two, or three or…my only promise this time is that…there will be no more promises! Well, at least until I can work out HOW and WHY one day rolls into the next, and how one week becomes two, then three and then four. If I am indeed missing out, or if I have not been enlightened, I welcome your letting me know…exactly where all “that” time goes! Until the next blog, I bid you all farewell.
Dedication: This one is for my two “novias” and “partners in crime”, Linda and Karen. If there were EVER three peas in a pod, we are it! It has been such an absolute pleasure to meet you both, to laugh with you, and to share my persona and self with you. You take me back to the child within, the lover of excitement, connectedness, and adventure. “Blood sisters foreva!”
Photos: 1.- Ombi and Alex at Marie and Moz’s wedding. 2.- Giovannino and Auntie Rina. 3.- Congratulations! Moz and Marie tie the knot! 4.- Giovanni enjoys a “traditional” beer at San Remo. 5.- The gang at Brunetti’s. 6.- Ombi and Linda at Thaila Thai on Linda’s birthday. 7.- At Auntie Iride and Sonya’s place, tucking into some good old fashion “roba buona”! (Italian food) 8.- Welcome home! Ombi, Linda and Karen, (“the partners in crime”) at Karen’s sister’s brother’s house on the day of their return. 9.- L to R: Jesus, Jo, Alex and Ombi at Karen and Jesus’ welcome back BBQ (another one!) 10 – L to R: Hwa, Madame Geisha..oops Jesus, and Alex at a dinner at Hwa’s house. 11- Another gathering with some very special friends at Jamo’s house. L to R (bottom):Ombi, “my friend Kelly Jones” and Leeanne (Jamo). L to R (top): Zoe and Julie. 12.- Ombi and Nayte (Nathaniel) at Linda’s birthday. 13.- Heard of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” ? Well, this has got to be “Gossiping at Hwa’s”! Ombi, Linda, Karen and Kirrily gettin’ right into it! 14.- Dad, Giovannino and Alex at The Nobbies, Phillip Island. 15.- Mali Zeta Kihi Jones – Kel’s daughter. How cute! 16.- Sonya, Giovannino and Aunty Iride. 17.-Teah Precious Aroha Jones – Mali’s big sister, and equally cute 18.- At a cafe in the city: Moz, Ombi, Giovanninio and my nephew James, in the front. 19.- L to R: Bianca and Linda…second cousins who look like sisters! (Bianca is Moz’s daughter, and Linda is our first cousin) 20.- Family united – The Brady Bunch, oops the wedding party! From L to R: Bianca and Jarrod (Moz’s kids) and Rebecca, Raechel and Claire (Marie’s girls), and…Moz and Marie!